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2020 NFL DRAFT: Luke Inman's Mock 3.0

Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon (USA Today Sports)

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Check out Luke Inman’s previous mock drafts.

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January kicks off draft season for the majority of NFL teams who look to the crop of collegiate talent for their next young building blocks. Despite big names like Creed Humphrey, Paulson Adebo and Dylan Moses heading back to school there are still plenty of top-tier playmakers flooding the early rounds. With the Senior Bowl quickly approaching here’s a look at my latest projections before the week down in Mobile, Alabama changes the stock and perception of over 100 young prospects.

1) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

First year head coach Zac Taylor doesn’t have a lot of building blocks to build around on his current roster, meaning a trade down could net a serious haul to play with. However, despite a king’s ransom on the table to trade down, passing on rare talent like Burrow would be foolish. The hottest name in college sports, Burrow just put up one of the most efficient collegiate seasons from a signal caller we’ve ever seen, possessing all the tools you either have or you don’t, including elite pocket presence and natural feel.

Finally, Taylor and the Bengals can officially start their rebuild.

2) Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State 

Go ahead and write these first two picks in sharpie as Young to the Redskins is virtually a done deal even months before the draft. Finding guys that can get after the passer in a pass happy league are invaluable and Young has the tool box to come in and make an immediate impact for years to come. If we’re going off overall grades, Young is the top player in the class.

3) Detroit Lions: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama 

This is where the draft officially starts, and pending Tua Tagovailoa’s medical reports could be the sweet spot for QB needy teams to package a deal and move up to secure him. Too early for trades here, however, and giving this offense a game-changing weapon like Jeudy makes this team instantly better. Remember, Marvin Jones has major knee issues and Danny Amendola isn’t expected back, leaving the Lions offense with just one wideout (Kenny Golladay) to build around. The former Biletnikoff award winner, Jeudy is, in my opinion, a generational talent with the best route running and separation skills I’ve scouted since Amari Cooper, who was also taken inside the first five picks.

Sit down to watch a Lions game and it doesn’t take long to realize they possess a roster far more talented than their record would indicate. Getting Mathew Stafford back and healthy for the second half of his career will always be priority number one. After that, though, Matt Patricia has his pick of the litter of remaining blue chips he sees most worthy to add into the mix.

4) New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Dave Gettleman has his entire Giants career rolling on the arm of Daniel Jones, which win or lose will buy him some time. Bolstering his trenches with more Pro Bowl talent should buy him even more time. That’s the Gettleman way.

While it may be boring, they have to pull the trigger on a new cornerstone tackle after witnessing a major decline of former Pro Bowler Nate Solder and not much talent behind him on the roster. While I foresee a run on tackles in the top-12 picks, Thomas is still the clear-cut top dog for my money with a powerful and polished skill set.

This offense has quietly built an extremely young and talented core to develop with Jones, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Sheppard, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton. However, without the proper protection up front they will never maximize their ceilings. Thomas is the best pure tackle in the draft class and is as clean of an offensive line prospect you can ask for. Even the Giants can’t screw this up.

5) Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

I have no idea what Tagovailoa’s future holds but I do know from past history that hip injuries are among worst possible things to fully recover from. Will he ever be his old self? If so, how long does the timetable call for? Will any team be willing to use their first pick on a player with so many unknowns and questions? It’s so tough to say this early in the pre-draft process. However, if any team is going to swing for the fence it’s Miami with all its extra ammo.

When healthy, he’s one of the cleanest quarterback prospects to come out over the past few drafts, and that includes some monster names like Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray.

6) Los Angeles Chargers: Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State 

I give the Chargers and Philip Rivers an offensive lineman in round one nearly every year, and with an aging pure pocket passer, giving him better protection is very likely here. However, Okudah is special and has always dominated his competition going back to high school as the country’s top cornerback recruit, living up to the hype every step of the way as a vacuum-tight cover corner.

When you’re drafting this high you must be sure to come away with a special talent at premier positions, and in a pass-happy league you just can’t have enough cover cornerbacks. While it’s a risk to wait on offensive line in day two, adding Okudah to talents like Joey Bosa, Derwin James and Melvin Engram makes this defense one of the best on paper at all three levels.

7) Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson 

I love this kid. Simmons is a joker that roams the field and flies to the ball to constantly disrupt and make plays. Flip on a Clemson Tigers game and it’s easy to see why Simmons is inching himself forward as a legitimate top 10 pick. In a league where drawing up mismatches is the name of the game, Simmons gives coaches the rare ability to be equally imposing at the first, second and third level of the defense. You wouldn’t even believe me if I told you all the different positions Simmons lined up at for the Tigers and, like 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year Derwin James, will have an immediate impact all over the field.

With the sudden retirement of Luke Kuechly the Panthers will look to fill a void at linebacker they haven’t thought about in nearly a decade. Simmons will never be a true middle linebacker but will make everyone around him so much better. A great starting spot for Matt Rhule’s rebuild in Carolina as one of the surest picks in the entire class.

8) Arizona Cardinals: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma 

You want to run an Air Raid offense? Adding one of the most explosive wide receivers you’ll find into Kliff Kingbury’s arsenal is an extraordinary start to the building process. Lamb has dominated defenses from the outside against top-tier press defenders while showing off an absurd broken tackle rate (26 broken tackles on 51 catches) that makes him truly special.

Cardinals can’t go wrong with any one of these top wide-outs or offensive linemen. As long as they are protecting their investment in Murray and helping his development, there is no wrong choice.

9) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU

It was more clear than ever just how influential and dominant Jalen Ramsey was for this defense. Now, with an extra pick in their pocket the front office can give their best effort to replace Ramsey while still finding a way to add more playmakers and talent later on.

Fulton was one of, if not the highest, rated cornerbacks in the SEC for not one, but two full seasons. Getting that nasty cornerback duo back on defense is priority number one for this team, which can now use their extra pick to upgrade elsewhere.

10) Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama

New head coach Kevin Stefanski has the luxury of taking over an already talented roster with a still young and budding quarterback. While Baker Mayfield took a step back during a sophomore slump it was clear he was never offered the proper protection for him to take that next step.

Willis is going to explode at the combine and prove he is the most athletic at his position amongst his peers. With loads of talented play-makers across their offense, shoring up their trenches and biggest glaring weakness will be the offensive-minded Stefanski’s first order of business.

11) New York Jets: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn  

For all intents and purposes I will tell you now that the former SEC defensive player of the year should not fall out of the top 10 picks. However, in this scenario Adam Gase gets the luck of the draw.

With so many holes and areas of improvement needed I could sit here and make a strong case for the Jets to trade down and down again, loading up on extra ammo to help aid one of the weakest rosters in the entire league. But for now they add the best player available, stocking up on a serious talent that crushed his competition for two seasons in a row.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

I’m telling you right now, if the rumors are true of Ruggs running in the 4.2s (if not faster) during the combine then he’ll cement himself in the top 12 picks. In a league that craves home-run speed, Jon Gruden just can’t contain himself, pulling the trigger on this stick of dynamite after seeing 24 of his 98 catches resulted in touchdowns.

If the long term plan is to stick with Derek Carr, then replenishing the weapons around him will be vital for this offense’s both short and long term success as Tyrell Williams and Zay Jones just won’t cut it.

13) Indianapolis Colts: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado 

After an old school knockout win in Arrowhead this season, it’s clear to me Jacoby Brisett has shown enough to earn himself a long-term contract. Adding game changers around him will be the next step and he couldn’t ask for a better gift as Shenault’s game changing speed and explosiveness with the ball in his hands equates to a legitimate number one wide out. I see a lot of Sammy Watkins in his game with even more play strength, and that sure as hell ain’t a bad thing.

The Colts pumped out just three pass plays of 40 yards or more this season, meaning adding more firepower for Brissett will be vital for his continuing progression and development.

14) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa 

Bruce Arians knows no matter which quarterback he chooses, without the proper protection up front they will likely never reach their full ability. Wirfs is one of the top tackles in the draft left before a major dropoff, meaning plucking him here could prove to be not only adding an elite talent but offering tremendous value as well.

15) Denver Broncos: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

All signs point to John Elway landing his quarterback of the future in Drew Lock after a rock solid last month of the season. Now, surrounding him with the proper talent to develop will be critical. New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur already has Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and a budding offensive line and now gets a target that can win one-on-one match-ups and jump-ball situations.

16): Atlanta Falcons: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU  

Tough to pick from a talented edge group that will go off the board from picks 15 to 35 like Curtis Weaver and Yetur Gross-Matos. However, when you watch Chaisson explode off the edge with burst and Gumby-like bend he feels like a Dan Quinn defender with the highest upside. Still highly untapped, Chaisson has the raw attributes to be a double-digit sack monster with Quinn maximizing his versatility with both his hand in the dirt and standing up.

His position says defensive end but don’t be fooled, I think he can do a little bit of everything from dropping back in coverage to moving up and down the defensive line. One of the better bursts off the snap in college right now, Chaisson just needs to be molded and developed.

17) Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU 

There might not be a better marriage between team and prospect than this. The Cowboys desperately need help in the back end of their defense to help close out games. Despite his inconsistencies in tackling, Delpit offers the range and playmaking instincts worthy of a top-20 pick.

You’ll hear plenty about his mistakes, but remember this, in his last three games Delpit missed zero tackles on the biggest stage of his career, quieting his doubters heading into the draft.

18)  Miami Dolphins (via Steelers): AJ Epenesa, DL, Iowa 

Forget the name, school and position. When it comes to rebuild mode, any front office should be concerned with one thing only, which is adding the best pure talent with every selection. We see it every year as one “sure thing” slips further than they should into the late teens.

Enter Epenesa, who if taken in the top 10 nobody would bat an eye. After a dominant 2018 season Espensa showed off more versatility this season, grinding away on interior linemen with his heavy hands and non-stop motor. He’s a three-down defender equally stout versus the run and pass as the Dolphins start to build their respect back inside the trenches of Brian Flores.

19) Las Vegas Raiders (via Chicago Bears): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama 

Diggs might be my favorite “athlete” to watch play in the country. Younger brother to Stefon, Trevon has some serious moves he put on display as a true freshman wideout that made veteran defenders of the Crimson Tide look silly. Since his move to cornerback all he’s done is flourish with natural eyes for the ball and short area quickness. Despite having such little cornerback experience on his resume it’s clear the way Diggs runs his opponents’ routes for them that he’s a natural football player no matter where you line him up.

Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock roll the dice on Diggs who has the physical tools and mental makeup of a shut down number one cornerback this pass defense has been waiting for.

20) Jacksonville Jaguars (via Rams): Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU 

With all the speed and athleticism you covet at the position, Reagor is a big-play machine that produced at a high level (over 1,000 yards in 2018) despite being surrounded by inconsistent quarterback play throughout his career.

If the Jaguars want to get serious about Gardner Minshew then adding more playmakers around him will only help maximize and speed up his development. Now with D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook and Reagor the Jaguars have multiple threats to stretch the field that defenses have to gameplan for.

21) Philadelphia Eagles: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida 

The Eagles continue to pump draft picks into the cornerback position with little results. Whether it’s unlucky injuries or just bad development, the Eagles will be forced to continue to try their luck at the position. Lucky for them this class is loaded, meaning if they stay patient and true to the board a quality talent like Henderson should fall right in their laps.

Henderson excels in man coverage with good size and sticky technique to instantly improve the secondary for Doug Pederson. With so many good cornerbacks stacked up in the same range, Henderson’s combine could impact his draft stock for good or bad.

22) Buffalo Bills: Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE, Penn State

Gross-Matos and his ridiculous 20 tackles for loss give this defense another high-upside weapon next to last year’s top pick Ed Oliver, and another layer of raw talent to match the other two levels of the defense. Arguably the surprise team of the AFC, the Bills and Sean McDermott are giving every opponent a serious run for their money. Adding an edge rusher like this will help them close out games late so Josh Allen won’t have to.

23) New England Patriots: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon 

Is it finally time? The Patriots did this dance a handful of years ago, drafting and molding Jimmy Garoppolo to be the heir apparent. However, Tom Brady still had plenty of gas left in the tank. Half a decade later and it’s clear Brady’s fuel is sputtering close to empty, meaning this front office better be more than willing to take another swing on life after “Tom Terrific.”

If Brady were to return to the Patriots, a grab-and-stash is the best case scenario for everyone, allowing Tom to go out on his own terms while giving the big-bodied, strong-armed Herbert time to learn the nuances of the NFL behind the best to ever do it. It’s time.

24) New Orleans Saints: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State 

Back to back “draft-and-stash” scenarios that could pay off in a big way for an organization that hasn’t drafted and developed a first round quarterback for years.

The Saints have not needed to because of the second half of Drew Brees’ Hall of Fame career. Now, however, with Brees close to the end and Teddy Bridgewater entering in free agency, this franchise is primed to buy a new seat on the signal-caller carousel.

Love was wildly inconsistent his final season. However, if you’re looking for the highest ceiling and playmaking ability, then this is the guy for you. Give Sean Payton two seasons to mold his offense around Love, similar to the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson, while he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.

25) Minnesota Vikings: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina 

After deciding to not retain Sheldon Richardson, Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman chose to roll the dice on names like Shamar Stephen, Jaleel Johnson and Armon Watts. The gamble proved costly as for the first time in the Zimmer era the defense was highly susceptible to opposing running games as well as a major lack of interior pressure. With a major defensive overhaul now in motion thanks to the league’s worst cap situation, a youth movement is already in motion on defense for the first time in years.

At 6-foot-6, 310, with biceps as big as an 18-wheeler, Kinlaw’s first step jumps off the tape for such a big man and helps him be disruptive from the interior and get after the passer. For my money, he’s without a doubt the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in this class.

If you can get after the passer in this league, no matter what position you play, you have value, but if you can do it from the interior, especially at the rate he did it in college then you might have something special at the next level. PFF gave Kinlaw the highest pass rushing grade in 2018 of any returning defensive player (88.7). What does he do in 2019? He somehow gets better, posting a 90 grade with 40 pressures. Kinlaw is a guy that as this draft process unfolds is going to close that gap between himself and Derrick Brown from Auburn, who as of now is the clear-cut number one DT.

26) Miami Dolphins (via Texans): Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville  

You’ve got your new franchise signal caller in Tua. Now it’s time to maximize his skill-set and surround him with the protection and talent to let him flourish. You may not know it now, but Becton is going to fly up draft boards thanks to a rare 6-foot-8, 360-pound frame you just can’t find.

With a boat load of ammo including five picks in the top 60, the Dolphins are ready to prove a quick turnaround is possible in today’s NFL, starting at the most important position in all of sports.

27) Seattle Seahawks: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State  

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Despite the plethora of injuries at the running back position, the Seahawks were still able to make a serious push into the playoffs thanks to Russell Wilson’s superhero performances. With Chris Carson entering a contract year and Rashaad Penny’s injury history, this team has to replenish its youth and talent.

Dobbins is the best complete running back of the class with the vision and three-down ability to be equally effective in the run and pass game. If this team can reach the final eight with a grab bag in the backfield, adding Dobbins instantly puts them as a front runner in 2020.

This is all assuming the front office chooses to sign Jadeveon Clowney to a long-term deal, taking care of one major need before the draft takes place.

28) Baltimore Ravens: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State 

Not a guy that’s going to wow you with a quick first step, but you can’t argue with the production as no one racked up more sacks or posted pass-rushing grades over 92 the last two seasons according to PFF.

Adding more talent and depth next to Chris Wormley and Jaylon Ferguson will help the Ravens defense win in the trenches. Given the depth of wide receivers in the class, grabbing a defensive player of Weaver’s caliber now gives the Ravens tremendous value.

29) Tennessee Titans: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame 

Put me in the minority, but I’m a fan of what Mike Vrabel has done to the culture of this team. Turning around the defensive identity while Ryan Tannehill carried the offense has been fun to watch. Although the production hasn’t always been there, Okwara’s athletic traits are really impressive for his size, which is something that should shine during the testing portion of the process. Okwara will form a highly dangerous duo next to last year’s first rounder Jeffery Simmons. Sprinkle in Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Cameron Wake, and Vrabel has all the toys he needs to unleash his aggressive style of defense to the top of the division.

30) Green Bay Packers: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

The Big 12 defensive freshman of the year, Murray has been a man amongst boys his entire collegiate career. Murray has that nastiness and competitive toughness you crave on your defense that will set the tone inside your front seven. To add a physical presence like Murray who set the collegiate record with an unbelievable 28 tackles in one game next to guys like Preston and Za’Darius Smith would be a dangerous trio for years to come.

Despite the decreased value the league has put on the linebacker position in the draft, Murray is far too talented with natural football speed to pass up here.

31) Kansas City Chiefs: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia 

The Cavaliers have quietly pumped some serious secondary talent into the NFL as of late with players like Anthony Harris and Juan Thornhill. On paper and in the film room, Hall is going to be the best of the bunch with a strong and imposing stature and aggressive physicality that you crave to see at the position.

After the departure of Marcus Peters, the Chiefs, while possessing solid depth at the position, lack that one high-end player they feel confident can lock down opposing teams’ number one weapon. No offense puts up more points than the Chiefs, so keeping a strong defense is vital.

32) San Francisco 49ers: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama

Shanahan’s innovative offense is one of the best in the business and adding another key piece to their offensive line puzzle later on will only help it become more consistent and create even more explosive results.

For now, however, Lynch must prepare for life after Jimmie Ward, who’s set to go get paid in free agency. Another playmaker in space that can hang with tight ends up the seam, McKinney has great range and outstanding tackling skills to step into a starting lineup from the get go.

Round Two

33. Cincinnati Bengals —  Austin Jackson, OT, USC

34. Indianapolis Colts (via WAS) — Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma

35. Detroit Lions — Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

36. New York Giants — Zach Baun, EDGE, Wisconsin

37. Los Angeles Chargers — Josh Jones, OT, Houston

38. Carolina Panthers — Raekwon Davis, DT, Alabama

39. Miami Dolphins — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

40. Arizona Cardinals — Prince Tega Wanogho, OT, Auburn

41. Cleveland Browns — Ashtyn Davis, FS, Cal

42. Jacksonville Jaguars — D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

43. Chicago Bears (via LVR) — Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame

44. Indianapolis Colts —  Tyler Biadasz, IOL, Wisconsin

45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

46. Denver Broncos — A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

47. Atlanta Falcons — Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State

48. New York Jets — Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

49. Pittsburgh Steelers — Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama

50. Chicago Bears — Nick Harris, IOL, Washington

51. Dallas Cowboys — Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

52. Los Angeles Rams — Lucas Niang, OT, TCU

53. Philadelphia Eagles — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

54. Buffalo Bills — K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State

55. Atlanta Falcons (via NE) — Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M

56. Miami Dolphins (via NO) — Marvin Wilson, DT, FSU

57. Houston Texans — Cameron Dantzler, CB, Mississippi State

58. Minnesota Vikings — Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

59. Seattle Seahawks — Lloyd Cushenberry, IOL, LSU

60. Baltimore Ravens — Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan

61. Tennessee Titans — Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

62. Green Bay Packers — Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas

63. Kansas City Chiefs — Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

64. Seattle Seahawks (via KC, via SF) — Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE ZONE COVERAGE DRAFT GUIDE:

TOP 100 PLAYER PROFILES
RANKING THE VIKINGS NEEDS
EXPLORING VIKINGS DRAFT TRENDS
A HISTORY OF RICK SPIELMAN’S DRAFT TRADES
LUKE INMAN’S MOCK DRAFTS

VIKINGS TARGETS
SENIOR BOWL CENTRAL
FEATURES FROM OUR STAFF

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Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon (USA Today Sports)

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